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New scholarship supports research
Memee Lavell of Wikwemikong First Nation is one of the first people to receive a scholarship from the Trudeau Foundation.
Lavell, who is completing her PhD in education at the University of Western Ontario, was one of 12 students from across the country chosen to get the scholarship, awarded for the first time this year by the Trudeau Foundation, a private, non-partisan organization created in 2002 as a living memorial to former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Each recipient will receive $35,000 per year for up to four years, with an additional $15,000 available to cover the cost of approved research-related travel.
The 29-year-old student is doing her doctoral research on Aboriginal people who have successfully completed post-secondary education, as a way to determine how the education system can be restructured to make it easier for more Aboriginal students to follow in the footsteps of these successful academics.
While Lavell is the only Aboriginal person among the initial dozen to receive the scholarship, she is far from being the only one who is doing research related to Aboriginal people. A total of five of the scholarship recipients are doing research in that area, including Ginger Gibson, who is looking into ways to minimize the environmental and sociological impacts that mine operations have on local Indigenous communities.
Fellow scholarship recipient Robert Nichols is doing his doctoral research on the implications the loss of language diversity is having among Aboriginal people.
Anna Stanley, whose research involves examining how Canada's nuclear fuel waste management policies have affected First Nations communities, and Sophie Theriault, who is researching how the law can be used as a tool to achieve and protect sustainable food security for Aboriginal people, were also among this year's recipients.
"The idea is to, staring this year and through the future, support the leading thinkers in Canada, be they doctoral students or mid-career professionals or others, giving them the resources that they need to succeed in areas that were important to Pierre Trudeau, said Peter Sahlas, executive program director for the foundation.
Those areas include human rights and social justice, responsible citizenship, Canada and the world, and humans and their natural environments.
"We're positioning ourselves to be the premier doctoral scholarship in the humanities and social sciences in Canada. It's a substantial amount, if you look at the $35,000, plus the $15,000. And the reason that they structured it that way is because unlike many scholarship programs, an important component of the program is encouraging people to move around, to research elsewhere, to spend time in other parts of Canada, to cultivate networks. And this is something that is encouraged by cutting the scholarship into two parts... if they manage to spend the $15,000 it's going to really make them mobile across the country, in some cases across the world, because their research has ramifications or there are interests for them elsewhere in the world," Sahlas said.
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